Saturday, September 01, 2007

Who killed the DSCOVR climate satellite? An experiment in blog-to-traditional media crossover

DeSmogBlog is launching an investigative series into how a NASA satellite called the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) was killed before launch even after 90% of it was done. The DSCOVR satellite is designed to sit at an L1 point, very far from the earth, and measure its energy budget. This can provide a very simple and direct measurement of global warming and also help bound a few important parameters in climate models.

Despite being ready for launch for about 5 years, the satellite has sat in storage. I've always heard this was because it was 1) a climate thing and 2) championed by Al Gore and the Bush administration is just that petty.

DeSmogBlog investigative reporter Mitchell Anderson hints that the oil lobby may have requested that it be killed. In an odd move, DeSmogBlog is asking for donations to support the ongoing (?) investigation in to this story. Don't you want to keep the investigation a secret until the story is done so you don't spook sources? And what if there's no story there? Unlikely, but still....

Anyway, good for DeSmogBlog and I wish them luck. It will be interesting to watch and see if this story makes it in to the traditional media. Blogs are often criticized (unfairly (by the traditional media)) for only feeding off the original reporting of the big papers and news networks. But lefty blog Talking Points Memo is credited with pushing the fired U.S. attorney scandal back in to the traditional media, thus making it a scandal, by a combination of linking and original reporting. It will be interesting to see if DeSmogBlog can accomplish something similar.

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